It’s fair to say most fans won’t be too sad when the Vikings finally part ways with over-paid, under-performing, oft-tweeting wide receiver Bernard Berrian. Thankfully, according to Adam Schefter, we won’t have to wait much longer for that divorce to happen. Schefter lists Berrian as one of several big-name players who could be cut by their teams this week.
Were the Vikings to keep Berrian for 2011 they would have to pay him $3.9 million. That’s not a huge number, but clearly the team could find better ways of using that money than paying a guy who in 2010 managed only 252 yards on 28 catches with 0 touchdowns and loads of groan-inducing drops.
Berrian’s rocky three year tenure in Minnesota began in 2008 when he signed a somewhat controversial six-year/$43 million deal to become our badly-needed deep threat. With Tarvaris Jackson and Gus Frerotte throwing him the ball in ’08, Berrian averaged 20 yards per reception and caught 7 touchdowns, seemingly vindicating his large contract.
When Brett Favre arrived in ’09 many expected Berrian’s numbers to climb. A hamstring injury in the first preseason game set him back however, and he would spend the rest of the season struggling to get in sync with Favre. By year’s end Berrian would find himself both eclipsed by Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin on the receiver depth chart and buried in the fans’ doghouse. He somewhat redeemed himself by catching 9 balls for 102 yards in the NFC title game, but also infuriated fans by losing a fumble in the second half of that frustrating defeat.
And then there was 2010. Things got off to a bad start for the Vikings in general when Sidney Rice underwent hip surgery and Brett Favre came back looking like he should’ve retired. Berrian could’ve helped fix this situation by rising to the #1 level people expected when Favre arrived in ’09 but instead he continued being at best inconsistent, at worst invisible. Things got even more dire when an apparently emotionally shaken Berrian began fumbling punts, ultimately losing his returner job to Greg Camarillo.
Calls for Berrian to be traded, cut or perhaps euthanized rose from Viking fandom along with the persistent Fire Chilly cries. In the end, Childress would be canned, but Berrian would survive to the finish of the disastrous season.
After the season, Leslie Frazier was hired as coach, and he along with Rick Spielman made it clear that the Vikes intended getting younger, cheaper and more “team-oriented” (Frazier’s word, not mine). This seemed to put Berrian squarely in the crosshairs, despite his assurances that people who accuse him of not being team-oriented are nothing but dummies.
It’s hard to find a good reason not to cut Berrian loose. The only one I can conjure is that, with Sidney Rice’s situation up in the air, the Vikes might want to hold onto Berrian’s rights just in case. Then again, the Vikes may be so low on Berrian, both as a player and a person, that they just want him gone.
Clearly the team is looking to part ways with the free-spending, future-be-damned image they cultivated during the first few years of the Zygi Wilf era and forge a new identity as a team that builds with draft picks and prudent low-cost signings. Berrian, a poster boy for the Vikings’ former fiscal irresponsibility, just doesn’t fit into that new frugal plan.